Hundreds of arrests in Arizona drug case

Dec. 21, 2011 at 1:13 PM

TEMPE, Ariz., Dec. 21 (UPI) -- A drug-trafficking investigation that began with a traffic stop in Arizona has led to the arrest of 203 suspects linked to the Sinaloa cartel, authorities said.

Police said they seized $7.8 million in cash and $12 million worth of drugs from suspects thought to have ties to cartel operations in several other states including Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, Missouri and Kansas, the East Valley Tribune of Tempe, Ariz., reported Wednesday.

The 15-month investigation began when a patrol officer in Tempe pulled over a known drug user and quickly realized there was more than what would have otherwise been a $100 meth deal, Tempe police said.

"It got us into some things where we really didn't anticipate the level of activity within our county," Tempe police Chief Tom Ryff said.

Tempe narcotics detectives began working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in an investigation dubbed Operation Crank Call.

Police said they have been arresting suspects during the entire investigation and said more arrests will come.

So far, 650 pounds of marijuana, 123 pounds of cocaine, 4.5 pounds of heroin and 435 pounds of meth have been seized along with millions in cash, officials said.

"It's frankly an obscene amount of drugs and money," Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said. "Those numbers reflect the horrific scope of the drug-trafficking problem in our community."

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